As darkness falls, Dora Mjungu and her two brothers cram themselves around the faint flame of a kerosene lamp, struggling to finish their homework before their mother blows out the lamp to save the fuel cost.
“I don’t dare to go to bed before getting it done. If I did, I would rather stay at home because my teacher would be mad at me and hit me hard as if she was killing a snake,” said Mjungu, as the lamp, made from a used cooking oil tin, cast scary shadows on the sitting room walls.
For years, 14-year-old Mjungu, a pupil at Usinge primary school in remote Tura village in Tanzania’s Tabora region, has been trying to convince her mother to buy a Chinese-made solar lamp, which would not emit smoke that makes her cough.
Her mother says pupils have long survived studying by firelight or even moonlight, and “circumstances are such that I cannot afford any other kind of lamp.”